Brentford star Kristoffer Ajer has revealed that he was forced to prove his age after netting 26 goals in a single game as a kid.
The 24-year-old has impressed in his debut Premier League season and has been a pivotal performer for the Bees, who have now beat the drop. The classy centre-half was plucked from Celtic in a club-record £13.5million deal last summer.
The Norwegian international has come a long way from his humble beginnings, where he made his senior debut for Bodo/Glimt at the age of 16. But Ajer was even younger than that when it first became clear that he was destined for big things in the game – and he was even accused of being older than he was after running riot in a youth game.
Ajer told Brentford's website: “I started playing with my dad when I was four years old. My dad wanted a son to play football with and I’ve always loved playing, so we started early!
“I’d already been playing for a few years by the time I was involved in my first game for Raelingen, so I’d developed a lot more than the other guys who had never played football. My dad was the coach, and he had a rule that every player on the pitch had to score at least once, so I scored 26 of our 30 goals!
“I remember I was refused to play the next matches of the tournament if I could not prove my age. After this, my mother always had my passport with her when I was playing!”
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Nowadays, Ajer is tasked with stopping goals rather than bagging them himself. After picking up three Scottish titles in four years during his time in Glasgow, the defender has adapted to life in the Premier League seamlessly.
And although he's not likely to be challenging for titles with Brentford any time soon, Ajer is adamant that he is already reaping the benefits of playing in the Premier League. He added: “From a defensive point of view, I’m put under more pressure here than I was at Celtic. Learning from the fantastic coaches, I already feel I’ve developed so much since signing for the Club.
“I respect Celtic so much, but in the Premier League you’re under pressure all the time. In every game, if you make a mistake the opposition will punish you. It’s very important for my development to experience that. It’s helped my game a lot."
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